In which a man dies, a broken heart does not mend, lovely women are photographed, and beautiful music is heard. If you do not see these colors, the trouble may be in your set.
The first thing I see as we drive into Minneapolis is a dead man.
All through this weekend I am rubbed raw, stripped open, adrift and disoriented after a sudden tangle with a kind of godhead membrane that drifted across my life over the last year, like a caul, hemming in the great grand world until all that was left was a single pair of incomparable eyes, lips of exquisite expression, an uncertain heart trembling with gifts afeared of giving. A mind as boundless and as softly, quietly creative as sun on clouds; a woman extraordinary, whose warm shadow fell over me with such breathless speed that I thought — uh, sorry, did I write that out loud?
Anyway, I am sodden with love, unrequited unmet love, and after she spots the damp little footprints it turns out that she is from Venus and I am from Brooklyn, and here I am in Minneapolis, and I don’t really want to live any more, and there’s a dead guy lying the parking lot in a pool of blood draining from a head that doesn’t seem all the way there. We’re driving past, and we don’t stop, and I think to myself, “Wow,” as one does when there’s a dead man lying there in a pool of blood. We’re almost past already. My helpful brain offers this up: “That,” it whispers, “is a dead guy. So why don’t you maybe quit whining for an hour or two?”
We’re in town for a CD release show by Coach Said Not To, a delightful band I spotted this year at the SXSW Music Conference of a happy Wednesday night. Seth has more airline miles than Route 66 has land inches at this point, so we’re here at the bottom of an avalanche of earlier flying, larking around and enjoying the Lutherans. Every third building is a church; when we make a crack to someone we’ve met about ministers, she easily answers, “Well my father was in the Church.” We don’t ask which one.
Sometimes I feel like I’m in a storm; the world is furious and there isn’t any peace. This is why I’m looking for portent in places I’d otherwise look to for plot and atmosphere. I’m trying to understand. I’m looking for familiar landmarks, for some magical-thinking hint that this is where I should be now, and that it’s not all just a dreadful mistake. Tuttle/Buttle. That sort of thing. And now this: after all the years of life in New York, I come to Minneapolis to see my first corpse. Surely around the next corner there will be a dead horse I can beat, or a very shy fellow with bite marks on him?
CSNT does a glorious show that is ecstatic, fun, and full of everything a show should hold. The recording doesn’t hold the same confabulation, but how could it? I am mesmerized, grinning, moved. The next day we meet the band at the Claes Oldenburg Spoon & Cherry for a quick photo shoot among the cheeky sculptures of the garden, under a sun that has other places to be but spares a glance for us as we whirl past.
In the end? Like so many eyes, hers see outward only; she is blind to herself. “I’m shallow,” she tells me, the other day. She seems to believe it. I am speechless, stunned. It makes me so sad. It makes me want to turn off the lights. In his strange sci-fi arguable masterpiece Dhalgren, Samuel Delaney imagined a gang of wastrels who wear hologram projectors as gang colors, and to blur their identities. Each sees the hologram animal totem of the others, but none sees his or her own; it is against their code to tell. Each a mystery to the self, an avatar to the rest. It makes me think of that.
Because I am in love it makes me want to touch her. To show her what I see there. There are secrets in my hands, I want to tell her. You are in my hands. Find your shape with them. You missed something before — you missed something so beautiful in the dark. Let’s find it now.